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Sussex Police Federation

Government's decision to deny cops a level of vaccination priority leaves officers furious

9 February 2021

Furious police officers have hit out at the Government’s decision to deny the country’s cops a level of priority for the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Daren Egan, Chairman of Sussex Police Federation, has spoken out in anger alongside police officers from up and down the country following yesterday’s announcement, adding that it is “so wrong on so many levels”.  

He said: “We know officers are catching the virus at work and as a result of this decision they will continue to have no chance of immunity anytime soon. Sadly some of our colleagues have already passed away from Covid-19, others are extremely unwell and this is accompanied with the stress and anxiety of having no choice but to take it home to their families.” 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers in no uncertain terms that they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised.

Mr Hancock told a press conference yesterday (8 February) that officers will not be vaccinated until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which means they will have to wait for 32 million others to get the jab first. 

Daren said: “Police officers do not have the choice to self isolate or adhere to social distancing. They continue to have no vaccine immunity and must now expect to come into contact with the virus at some stage and just hope for the best. 

“The controversial decision to vaccinate 32 million people before offering it to any frontline police officers will stain the reputation of this Government in policing for years to come, they know better and they absolutely know the increased risk front line police officers face when getting close to people and putting hands on them.”

The Government decision to not prioritise police officers has come despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that police officers should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, whilst Home Secretary Priti Patel told policing to “get ready” for officers to receive the vaccine.

Mr Hancock told the press conference: “We have ensured, through the clinical advice that we’ve taken, that the vaccine rollout goes through those who are most at risk first. So any police officer who is aged over 50 will be part of the initial rollout through the current groups down to what I call the JCVI cohorts 1-9, from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations which advises us on the clinical basis for the order.

“After that we will then look at what order we go next and we’ll consider, for instance, questions of people who are in professions where you might have to be in contact with more people and the impact of the vaccine on transmission and make a decision and publicise it as soon as we’ve made that decision.

“No decision has yet been made in what order we’ll go after the JCVI cohorts 1-9 but we’re looking very closely, including at where police officers should be in that order.”

Daren added: “It defies belief that a Government which continues to rely so heavily on unvaccinated police officers to enforce their lockdown restrictions then shamelessly refuses to offer them the same protection/vaccination given to other front line professions.

“It’s just so wrong on many levels. It is no wonder that police officers are angry at having to accept the higher risk of unprotected infection. The decision to treat front line police officers differently from other front line service workers who receive the vaccine is wrong, forcing them to work under these conditions are not the actions expected from any government in a modern day democratic society.”